Abandoned House, Lost History

By: Proserpina , 8:06 PM GMT on October 04, 2012


A few years ago I wrote my childhood memories to honor my beloved paternal grandpa. I wrote about his story, his house where I spent part of my childhood, and the history of our ancestors.

Grandpa and our ancestors lived in quartiere di bel vidiri (il Belvedere), a complex of family houses where the Muscara’ dwelled since at least 1567. Il Belvedere means that it is an area from where one can see picturesque, magnificent panoramas. One of the far off vistas from this location is the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Aeolian Islands.

If interested in reading about my grandpa’s story, please go to:

http://librizziancestorsinmyheart.blogspot.com/20 10/04/remembering-grandpa-giuseppe-muscara.html

Two other stories that might be of interest are found at:
http://librizziancestorsinmyheart.blogspot.com/20 09/10/muscara-ancestors.html
(Il Magnifico Pietro Muscara’ is my first ancestor who lived in the ancient town of Librizzi. I found this information in the oldest documents available for me to read, the 1584 and the 1594 Census Records.)

http://librizziancestorsinmyheart.blogspot.com/20 09/11/you-live-as-long-as-you-are-remembered.html


Grandpa horses were housed in this area as indicated by the horseshoe. This is a cortile where the horses could enjoy the sunshine.


This is the street entrance to the covered area where the horses were kept. There used to be a beautiful wrought iron gate here with the family crest as part of the decorations.

Today, the house where grandpa spent his last days, and the rest of the nearby houses stand deserted, lonely, and abandoned. The only sounds heard are the memories of past generations clamoring to be heard so that they may tell us that once there was laughter, joy, and life residing within those crumbling walls.


Yes, the once vibrant, proud, and beautiful house is now decayed and colorless. The walls have fallen prey to the passage of time and to the relentless beating of the Sicilian elements. Weeds and vines are growing from the shivering walls, lording over the moribund building, triumphant in their conquest. The doors are open uncaring about the decay within, there is no pity for the lament of ancestors.


The above is one of the many balconies that used to adorn grandpa’s house.

Broken windows, crumbling stonework, pebbles disgorged from the eroded walls, fragments of memories.

Memories, stoically enduring the road to oblivion.

Ed e’ subito sera.


Ognuno sta solo sul cuor della terra
trafitto da un raggio di sole:
ed è subito sera.

Everyone stands alone at the heart of the world
pierced by a ray of sunlight,
and suddenly it is evening.

Salvatore Quasimodo (1901-1968), born in Sicily, poet, Nobel Prize Winner

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20. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
2:27 PM GMT on October 10, 2012
Proserpina has created a new entry.
19. shoreacres
1:34 PM GMT on October 09, 2012
Morning, Pros ~ I came to see if there was any more news about the boy. Such a sad, sad story.

There seems to be so much suicide these days. Just now, I can't remember when I first heard of someone actually commiting suicide, but I had to have been well out of college. There were deaths, of course - but they were drownings, farm accidents, and so on. It's so hard on the family - I'm just glad that they found him so that his parents didn't have weeks of waiting and wondering.

It will be good to get the final report - it's hardly more comforting to think of someone roaming your neighborhood.

I think I saw that you're out and about today - it looks as though it's an ok day, weatherwise. Hope the day goes well!

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
18. Ylee
10:18 AM GMT on October 09, 2012
Pros, I'm so sorry for the family. One thing I've never understood is why young people, with their whole lives ahead of them, decide to end their life! I remember a student at my high school, over 30 years ago, killed himself at home. It puzzled me then, as this boy's death puzzles me now.

Take care, Pros.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
17. Proserpina
12:05 AM GMT on October 09, 2012
Janet, sadly it appears that he committed suicide. I am sure that there will be more news on the matter.
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16. janetlee
10:47 PM GMT on October 08, 2012
Oh so sorry to hear that, I was hoping for good news on that young man. Such a tragic thing for his family and your community. Prayers for all.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
15. Proserpina
9:11 PM GMT on October 08, 2012
Missing Fairfax County teen Bryan Glenn found dead


Searchers in Fairfax County found a body Monday afternoon in the woods of Thaiss Park. Friends identify him as a teen who had been missing since last Monday.

Authorities have not released the cause of death of 17-year-old Bryan Glenn, a senior student at W.T. Woodson High School.

Glenn was last seen at around 7 a.m. Monday October 1st in the parking lot of the high school.

"We didn't learn this until later on at night when he didn't come home from football practice, but he had missed all day of school and football practice as well," said Mike Glenn, Bryan's father.

Bryan Glenn's car was found by Fairfax City Police in the parking lot next to the baseball field at Thaiss Memorial Park early last Tuesday morning.

Read more: http://www.myfoxdc.com/story/19765741/missing-fair fax-county-teen-bryan-glenn-found-dead#ixzz28k8kuK 5o

As a mother and as a member of the community this young man lived and died in, my heart is heavy. May Bryan RIP and may God hold his family in the palm of his hands.

There are lots of unanswered questions about this case, and the cause of death has not been disclosed. For all we know there is a killer walking our neighborhoods.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
14. Proserpina
6:43 PM GMT on October 07, 2012
Good afternoon. I should be watching the Redskins game but I can't sit still in front of the tube! Even with crossword puzzle at hand as well as the afghan I am working on, I am restless and bored! I remember when I used to devour every second of the Redskins games!

Bug, so glad that some members of your family have the interest in genealogy. Life does not come from a void, our roots are part of us! Amazing that the cousin turned out to be his sister. I do not understand, you did not know she was his sister, or they did not know they were siblings?
Poor back, get a heating pad out and use it while you read a book! Some days it is one of my favorite activities, well, a necessity. I have learned to close my eyes to certain chores done by hubby at my request. Beggars cannot be choosers, and my back won't let me dig, reach,.... Yesterday he trimmed an ornamental small tree for me, in the process he trimmed off the spent blooms which usually add color and structure to the winter garden. Well, at least the tree is nicely trimmed and I am thankful for the help. In the past? Well, I did it myself to suit my tastes and needs.

Shore, glad you read the stories, no great writing but historically correct.
Interestingly that you should point out the NY Times article. One of the stories that you read is about my grandfather and the results of the Risorgimento. A war pushed on Sicily by the Northerners! A war that destroyed the South and especially the Kingdom of Sicily. A war where the Northerners took everything from the South, taxed them to death, killed off thousands who did not agree with what was happening,and have followed a campaign of arrogance and superiority ever since. Factories flourished in the North in part with the resources they took from the South.
The arrogance of the Northerners and their attitude of a superior 'race' is seen from this quote from the article you point out "The Northern League's increasingly brazen manner and Mr. Bossi's increasingly bellicose tone (he recently chased away television reporters shouting "raus, raus," German for "get out") have become a matter of growing concern in Rome, where the Government, the judiciary and even the Vatican have weighed in with condemnations." Raus, raus! I will say no more!
On our last trip of Tuscany we saw posters on public walls set up by the Northern League. One of the posters showed an American Indian. The message was that the Southern 'immigrants' coming to the North to work would destroy them as the people who came to the New World destroyed the Indians.
The ironic thing is that many of the ancient inhabitants of Sicily were Italic people from the North and Central areas of the peninsula! Later other groups from the North, such as the Longobards added themselves to the mixture called 'Sicilians'. I could go on and on but I must say that I am disgusted with arrogant supremacists who walk this earth! By the way, there is a group of Sicilians who want to secede from the mainland! This group of people who want their independence goes back to 1860 when the Northerners decided THEY wanted a unified Italy. I might also add that when Northerners say South they mean anything south of Rome.
And one more thing, the Northerner (born in Milano) playboy of the Western world who recently was the 'leader' of Italy, is by definition responsible for the current mess in Italy. His name? Berlusconi.

Janet, Sandi, Ylee, Patti, I will come back to finish the responses to your posts. I need to go 'cool down'. And put on a jacket as the temps in this house have plummeted since yesterday.

I'm back and not too happy, the Redskins lost and the quarterback was injured.

Janet, thank you for reading the other stories. I do understand grandmother and her unhappiness about selling the house. I too make up stories/histories in my mind when I see old buildings. Who lived there? What was their life like? etc.

Ylee, thank you. My mom was very proud of having been born in the USA, and I am proud that thru her I am entitled by birthright to be called an American. I love my dual roots but my choice is the USA.
The part if the town in the photo is the oldest part of the town. Built at the top for protection and as a lookout for enemy ships. The info was conveyed thru fire and a whistling system to the mainland! Eventually the town grew down the peak of the hill where grandpa's house is. In the old sections of the town the houses are attached (in the style of townhouses today), but as one leaves the center of the town there are plenty of single houses. And then there are the farm houses/estates, and the summer houses. Another one of my stories on that blog is about the town's history, actually it is interesting (so I think).

, the story of your house and those of your family is sad but the fate of most houses. Too bad that some of the owners have no pride and create eyesores.
On the last trip to Librizzi I chose not to go inside grandpa's house. I did not want to see what has happened to the interior since I last set foot in it over 40 years ago. I did go up to one of the doors, touched the door with my forehead, and said goodby to the house, the ancestors, the memories. The funny thing is that when I went to my own house I had no sad feelings and no sense of loss. I did not go in that house either, although it is in excellent shape inside and out. It is still lived in and the people who now own it are able to maintain the house to today's standards.

Patti, as you know, I fixed the address. You are so sweet to be interested and willing to spend the time with 'strangers'.
Perhaps if you start a genealogy search you might learn more about your parents. Did they pass away when you were very young?
I will come by soon to read about your trip back home, assuming that you are back home. You sure have quite a story to tell about this latest trip.

I think that I am now caught up with my little posts. Thank you every one for your comments, kindness, and for putting up with my little rant above.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
13. palmettobug53
5:28 PM GMT on October 07, 2012
Hi, Pros.

Hope your Sunday is a good one.

It's not even 1:30 yet and I'm exhausted. I was outside digging holes to get two plants in the ground. Hubby doesn't do it to my satisfaction, so I did it. I hope I'll be able to walk in the morning!

It's a good thing I've been slowly moving into perinnials and shrubs, so the digging chores are getting farther and farther between. I'm past my yard working prime! OUCH....

We've got several folks in my family (both sides) that have been doing the family trees. Dad got really into it after he retired. There's a cousin on Dad's side that has done extensive research on the family. And there's a cousin on Mama's side, in Alabama, that contacted me in hopes that I had info but I wound up referring him to a cousin that turned out to be his sister! LOL

I wasn't really interested until I got into my 40's. By that time, most of the older folks I'd have liked to have talked to about their lives and their recollections of earlier relatives had already passed on. I could kick myself but that's water under the bridge now.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
12. shoreacres
4:14 PM GMT on October 07, 2012
Pros ~ I'd read two of those entries on your other site before. I enjoyed browsing them again, and reading the third, and I enjoyed seeing the photos here, despite the slightly sad flavor of them.

When I went back to Iowa last year, I went to visit both of my homes there. The huge two story home we lived in while I was in grade school turned out not to be huge at all! I was completely surprised to see how small it really was. I was saddened myself to see the side garden gone, and the cherry and apple trees chopped down. No more asparagus patch, no more rhubarb. Sigh. And they had filled in the drive that went down to the basement entrance, where the coal truck brought a load about this time each year. At least the big maple trees still were in the front yard, and the old, one pump gas station I used to ride my bike to still is there! Amazing.

In a way, I feel better about old houses simply fading away than being fancied-up beyond all recognition. My grandparents' house still stands, but it's completely unrecognizable - and ugly beyond words. I suppose things were added on without much of a grand plan and as money came available - that's understandable. Still, an old house being allowed the dignity of a quiet death is ok with me. Sad, but ok.

Did you see that there's a growing movement for Venice and other towns in the area to secede from Italy? I suspect it won't get much more traction than the occasional mutterings here in Texas about succession from the Union, but it's pretty interesting to read about. Who knows what new alignments and alliances will have developed by the time the current fiscal crises are done?

Hope your day is going well. It's beautiful here - cloudy and cool, but nice. By this evening the clouds should be gone - which means it will be even colder tonight. I can't say I mind!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
11. janetlee
7:02 PM GMT on October 06, 2012
I have enjoyed reading your family history. My SIL has done a very thorough search of our family. It is interesting to read. I have no idea what I'll do with all the info, none of the kids are really interested.
Our old family home has also crumbled to dust. It had been in our family from the days when the county (Bedford VA) was first settled. Daddy sold it when we moved to Florida. Needless to say Garandmother was not very happy with him. There was no one in the family that wanted it and we were moving on.
Oftentimes when driving down the highway and seeing those crumbling homes on the wayside it does cause one to pause and wonder of its former life.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
10. Ylee
8:44 AM GMT on October 06, 2012
Hi, Pros! I did make a visit to your Librizzi blog; how close the buildings are on that little hill! Were there a lot of people living there when you were young?

I, for one, am glad you made it over here to America! :)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
9. sandiquiz
7:10 AM GMT on October 06, 2012
Going back to the places of those memories is at times very disappointing as nothing remains the same.

Good morning, Dear Pros,

I slept really well, which is surprising I suppose, but I was really tired!

The above comment hit a chord with me, as it is so true in my case. I was born in a big farmhouse, owned by my granddad. (Whilst researching my mother's side of the family tree I found a line of wealthy farmers, who all owned their own homes, right back to 1750.) After the war, many marriages happened, including my own parents. There was a need for new homes, and hundreds of "council" houses sprung up. At the age of four I moved with my mum and dad to a brand new house on a brand new "council" estate. I can still remember the newness of it all, everything clean and tidy, newly planted gardens and an over-enduring sense of "pride". We lived there until I was 14, when we moved to the other side of town and a house of our own.
About five years ago I went back. Gone, the newness, the cleanliness and most definitely, the pride! In its place derelict gardens, abandoned cars, wrecked bikes and toys littering the footpaths, and homes that lacked love. It was so sad.

Right, enough reminiscing.... time to get on.

I might not be back before Tuesday... I will be thinking of you, too :)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
8. redagainPatti
4:08 AM GMT on October 06, 2012
Dear darling, sorry was not able to visit the first link -
http://librizziancestorsinmyheart.blogspot.com/20 10/10/remembering-grandpa-giuseppe-muscara.html

Could u check it out? The drop a note to me?
Hugs - redagainpatti
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
7. redagainPatti
3:53 AM GMT on October 06, 2012
Hope the missing fellow turns up ok.

Thanks for the sharing of your roots. I wish I knew more of mine. I am so glad I was able to help my children know of their dad's roots since I know so little of my parents.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
6. Proserpina
7:22 PM GMT on October 05, 2012
GG, Bug, Rob, Alley, thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

The memories of our homes or the homes of those we love most when we are children are forever with us. Going back to the places of those memories is at times very disappointing as nothing remains the same.

In the case of my family's palazzetto, as some call it, is sad because of its centuries old history and the historical people who lived in that building or one of the attached homes. Some of my early ancestors were the towns 'illustrious sons' as the town puts it. One was the equivalent of the USA Supreme Court Chief of Justice, another the equivalent of the Treasurer (of the Kingdom of Sicily), etc. etc.

The architectural structures of grandpa's house(balconies, arches,..)have been cited in at least one book as part of the cultural patrimony that needs to be preserved. It so happens that the town wants to buy the whole complex of buildings, restore them, and rent them. As usual, some people are glad to sell, others are holding out for more money. And true to the local politics, nothing will probably happen, the status quo will win the day. In the meantime history is dying in the historical part of the town. The town is basically rising again at the foot of the hill where it is easier and faster to get to work.

As to grandpa's house, no one has lived there for at least 40 years, probably more. My aunt and uncles had their own homes in the town, and the young people all left to pursue their careers. Pretty much as we do here, we go where our jobs take us, and we do like our independence from the older generations. So my family is in Milano, Siena, Messina, Rome, etc. where they pursue their careers as teachers, lawyers, architects, bankers, etc. And I decided to come to the land where my mom was born and to accept my American part of my dual citizenship. It was the choice I made at the age of 13! I wanted more independence than the females had in the town at that time. I do come from a family of very independent women, I am convinced that if my grandmother and my great grandmother (one on each side of my lines)were alive in the 1970s they would have burned their bras as well!

As it turns out, today's females in that town and all over Italy demand and have more independence than I/we do in this country! In some ways the decision I made at 13 has an ironic end!

I might add that I am the only one in the family who is interested in ancestors and their histories. Some family members make believe that they are interested, some are amused with their nutty American cousin, others are totally disinterested, a few are disgusted with my family history mania. As to my descendants, well, they have to put up with their mom and grandma's hobby! But someday when they are retired, who knows? They may get the genealogy disease as well!

Again, thank you for leaving a comment.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
5. GardenGrrl
4:25 PM GMT on October 05, 2012
Hi Prose, I always wonder how beautiful pieces of architecture end up abandoned. Here, because America is a young country, most of the buildings that one could be considerd art are in the inner city.

The families that had the old mansions moved to the fashionable suburbs leaving the old buildings and neighborhoods of the city to decay. Such waste as these homes were built with ornate woodwork, stained glass, imported marble and tile.

It makes me wonder just how wealthy one has to be that they can shrug off such amazing craftwork for a home in the new "it" neighborhood.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
4. palmettobug53
4:24 PM GMT on October 05, 2012
Hi, Pros.

What lovely architecture. So sad that so many historical buildings are crumbling or have been 'gentryfied' past all recognition.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
3. Proserpina
10:20 PM GMT on October 04, 2012


Bryan Glenn, 17 yr old Senior, W.T. Woodson HS
Last seen: Monday, 1 October 2012 in the junior parking lot at Woodson HS at 7 am, then at Fairfax Circle Dunkin Donuts at 8 am.

Left car (dark grey 2012 VW Jetta) at Baseball field on Pickett Road (Thaiss Park)
------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------
Please help -- call with any information:
(703) 503-2820, (571) 455-5857, (571) 331-6497


Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
2. RobDaHood
8:42 PM GMT on October 04, 2012
How very cool!
It's getting near time to start fixing dinner but I took a quick peek at the links and will definitely read it all later.

Thank you for sharing this!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1. Alleyoops
8:19 PM GMT on October 04, 2012
Oh I love this PROS. What a beautiful story to tell of ones ancestoral home. Unfortunately the home my father grew up in and I was fortunate to grow up in has seen many changes to it. Its no longer the lovely old home it once was. All the beautiful old victorian era woodwork is gone and it has been changed into another modern box with all the character removed from it. I was blessed growing up in it before the large porches were removed, rooms remodeled by my dad, a new kitchen put in for mom. She did put her foot down though when it came to the kitchen ceiling, it always remained wood for as long as I can remember.

It's a shame when homes are abandoned and no one comes to love it the way past families have.

Hope you have a wonderful day dear one. As they say, time moves on....
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